Time for Phoenix owners to splash the cash

Last updated 10:44 03/03/2013
Gareth Morgan
CASH INJECTION: It's time for Gareth Morgan and the other members of the Wellington Phoenix ownership consortium, Welnix to invest in the club's future.

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The Welnix consortium have now got their first real challenge since they took over running the Wellington Phoenix - finding the right man to lead their A-League franchise to measurable success.

OPINION: Measurable, because there are still people who think the previous coach had a "very successful tenure", as the man himself said on leaving, despite the statistics and facts saying otherwise.

What Ricki Herbert did achieve in his time in Wellington was help build a professional football club from scratch to the point of credibility, (if this season is taken out of the mix) from which quantifiable success can now be achieved. Not bubbles in the sky sort of stuff . . . but titles, attractive football and an elite-level youth development programme.

It is the Welnix consortium's job to finally put their money where their mouth is and make this happen. The question that needs to be asked is, who are they going to engage to help guide them on the first vital decision - employing a coach?

Morrison, Morgan and company certainly cannot do it themselves. While they are extremely successful businessmen, football is not their bread and butter.

They simply don't understand it enough at an elite level to make informed decisions.

It would seem ludicrous for Herbert himself to play a part in the process through his role as an advisor to the board. They do, however, desperately need a panel with proven experience at the highest level of the professional game to advise them.

The importance of getting this right cannot be underestimated. The last thing the club or the game needs is a host of failed coaching experiments over the next few seasons, until they find someone with the vision and understanding to take the club forward.

But appointing a coach who is an exponent of possession football with a record of success, is only the start of Welnix's challenges.

They then need to make some tough decisions around players. It is one thing to employ a coach who wants to play a certain style. But if he doesn't have the players to implement it, then it's only going to be a disaster waiting to happen.

Whoever comes in is not going to have a blank canvas on which to build their "dream team". They are still going to have to work with those already under contract, such as Steyn Huysegems, Vinne Lia, Ben Sigmund and others.

These are all solid, honest, journeymen style players. But just as a square peg isn't meant for a round hole, nor are these players suited to a fast paced, attractive, possession-based gameplan.

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So the owners have two options. Either they try and fill the remaining spots on the squad with really high quality players to cover any inadequacies amongst what they already have, or they try to pay out some players and make room on the roster so that the incoming coach has more room to build a squad to his liking. Either way, it's going to cost big dollars.

It's an exciting time, but for that to be realised Welnix need to open their wallets, follow through on their promises and deliver "professionalism" to football in New Zealand.

- Danny Hay is a former All White

- Sunday News

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